Matt Brown of Chadds Ford, Pa., won the Jack LeGoff Trophy for the National Open Horse Trials Championship riding Blossom Creek Foundation's BCF Belicoso in Tryon, N.C., on Sept. 3.
Brown was also awarded the USEA Gold Cup Championship at a event that, for the first time in its history, was run with the cross country as the last phase because of severe weather on Saturday.
Because the cross country was held last, the top 10 competitors ran in reverse order of standing on the final day, and Brown, who had been standing fifth after the show jumping phase,, thanks to his double clear round, no jumping and no time faults, moved all the way up to first.
Brown finished on his dressage score of 33.5.
"At the beginning of the week, I joked with my wife Cecily that riding this horse is like riding an electric golf cart that's slightly running our of batteries all the time," said Brown. "He doesn't have much blood to him, but he's always willing to go when I ask him to, and he showed me the same things in the show jumping and on cross country."
Brown had been eventing on the West Coast, but he moved East last year, first renting from Doug Howe in Cochranville and then moving to Chadds Ford.
"The thing I've found really great about being on the East Coast after having some success on the West Coast is that, in order to do well at a competition like this with Doug (Payne), Phillip (Dutton) Jennie (Brannigan), Marilyn (Little) and others, you really have to be on the inside line and not give away those little points," said Brown. "So being back here is definitely pushing me and pushing the horses. I felt like Belicoso really stepped up in all three phases and is constantly improving, so I'm really happy with him."
BELICOSO is comng back after having an injury that sidelined him for a year.
"This year, actually, we were in a position with our very generous owners Bob and Valerie Fish having to finance and funnel more funds towards Super Sock, (Brown's top mount)," said Brown. "So we were in the position of possibly having to sell Belicoso, so Cecily and I decided that we were going to do whatever it took to try to keep him, because we really believe in the horse."
Marilyn Little of Frederick, Md., riding RF Scandalous, had been leading after her double clear stadium jumping round so was last to go cross country, but she had a fall at fence 16, the Stick Pile, leaving the door wide open for Brown.
As time was tight on the cross country track designed by Capt. Mark Phillips, only three were double clear.
Doug Payne of Aiken, S.C., was second on Vandiver, finishing on his dressage score of 33.7, a mere .2 behind Brown, and Pennsylvanian Jennie Brannigan on Nina Gardner's Cambalda, who had been second after stadium jumping, dropped to third after getting 4.8 time penalties cross country to finish on 34.3.
"Dressage was good, but it's still coming," said Payne. "Looking to the future, I think it's very bright. Jumping was good last night, and then today cross country was excellent. He's like a seeing-eye dog, you just kind of sit there and enjoy it."
"I was probably five seconds down when we went across the first bridge, and then the course opens up a little bit," said Payne. "His stride is absolutely massive, so I got to the last fence and had 20 some seconds, so I just coasted across the line. He was flying."
Brannigan was riding with a broken hand suffered Saturday evening when she jammed it into Cambalda's neck while warming up for stadium jumping.
In the Open Intermediate division, Brannigan finished both first and second, first on Gardner's FE Lifestyle with two time faults in show jumping and just .4 time penalties on cross country to finish on 30.3, and second on Gardner's Twilightslastgleam, finishing on her dressage score of 32.5, with Floridian Charlotte Collier on Clifford M third on 32.7